Giampietro Campana
Giampietro Campana created marchese di Cavelli (1849), was an Italian art collector who assembled one of the nineteenth century's greatest collection of Greek and Roman sculpture and antiquities. The part of his collection of Hellenistic and Roman gold jewellery conserved in the Musée du Louvre warranted an exhibition devoted to it in 2005-06. He was an early collector of early Italian paintings, the so-called "primitives" of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, which were overlooked by his contemporaries. And like many collectors of his generation, he coveted Italian maiolica
Maiolica is Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance. It is decorated in bright colours on a white background, frequently depicting historical and legendary scenes.-Name:...

 of the 15th and 16th centuries.


Campana was born in Rome into a sophisticated milieu: the family was also entrusted with the operation of the Monte di Pietà, a papal charitable trust that operated as pawnbroker
A pawnbroker is an individual or business that offers secured loans to people, with items of personal property used as collateral...

 to Rome; Giampietro entered as an assistant in 1831 and was so efficient he was appointed director general in 1833. In 1835 he was made a cavaliere of the Order of the Golden Spur by Pope Gregory XVI
Pope Gregory XVI
Pope Gregory XVI , born Bartolomeo Alberto Cappellari, named Mauro as a member of the religious order of the Camaldolese, was Pope of the Catholic Church from 1831 to 1846...

 in gratitude for the loans that the reorganized Monte di Pietà had been able to make to the Vatican.
Campagna's first archaeological excavations were undertaken in 1829 at Frascati
Frascati is a town and comune in the province of Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy. It is located south-east of Rome, on the Alban Hills close to the ancient city of Tusculum. Frascati is closely associated with science, being the location of several international scientific...

, where the family had the use of properties belonging to the Camera Apostolica.


Campana's collection ranged over bronzes and marble sculpture, the Roman architectural terracotta reliefs
Ancient Roman pottery
Pottery was produced in enormous quantities in ancient Rome, mostly for utilitarian purposes. It is found all over the former Roman Empire and beyond...

 that are still called "Campana" reliefs, ceramics, numismatics and medals, acquired on the market and through excavations on his own properties and other sites and handsomely arranged and displayed at the Villa del Laterano. He also collected Italian paintings, forming a notable collection of the so-called "primitives" of the 14th and 15th centuries.

Thanks to his mature experience in the archaeological field— which in the mid-19th century was still a treasure hunt for works of art and curiosities, even in the hands of a sophisticated amateur— Campana was responsible for the discovery of the columbarium of Pomponius Hylas
Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas
The Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas is a 1st century AD Roman columbarium, situated near the Porta Latina on the Via Appia, Rome, Italy. It was discovered and excavated in 1831 by Pietro Campana....

 and two other columbarii
A columbarium is a place for the respectful and usually public storage of cinerary urns . The term comes from the Latin columba and originally referred to compartmentalized housing for doves and pigeons .The Columbarium of Pomponius Hylas is a particularly fine ancient Roman example, rich in...

 near the tomb of the Scipios
Tomb of the Scipios
The Tomb of the Scipios , also called the hypogaeum Scipionum, was the common tomb of the patrician Scipio family during the Roman Republic for interments between the early 3rd century BC and the early 1st century AD...

, of which he directed the publication, as well as publishing his own collection of the terracotta relief plaques of the Republican era that bear his name still. His obtained prominent positions with the pontifical administration and was placed in charge of the excavations at Ostia
Ostia Antica
Ostia Antica is a large archeological site, close to the modern suburb of Ostia , that was the location of the harbour city of ancient Rome, which is approximately 30 km to the northeast. "Ostia" in Latin means "mouth". At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport, but, due to...

. From 1842 he published several editions of his collection of moulded terracotta tiles, under the title Antiche opere in plastica, in which he offered antiquarian essays on the mythological and iconographic representations on the moulded relief panels and tiles; this was the first work to draw attention to these neglected architectural elements, which had a long pre-Roman history in Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany. The ancient Romans called its creators the Tusci or Etrusci...

In 1846 Pope Pius IX
Pope Pius IX
Blessed Pope Pius IX , born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was the longest-reigning elected Pope in the history of the Catholic Church, serving from 16 June 1846 until his death, a period of nearly 32 years. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican Council in 1869, which decreed papal...

 made a stately visit to inspect the collection at the Villa Campana, to which Campana had removed his Roman sculptures. The villa of his grandfather at the brow and gently rolling upper slopes of the Caelian Hill
Caelian Hill
The Caelian Hill is one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome. Under reign of Tullus Hostilius, the entire population of Alba Longa was forcibly resettled on the Caelian Hill...

, formerly a retreat of Paolo della Croce, was entered through wrought iron gates in via di San Stefano di Rotondo just off piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano; it had been beautified and its long range extended in a classicising manner that seemed to one lady visitor "a temple of old Rome, with well-proportioned columns and pediment". Its curving drive was shaded with some of the first Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is a diverse genus of flowering trees in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Members of the genus dominate the tree flora of Australia...

 in Rome, and in the garden, along with exotic plants, fountains and grottoes, Giampietro Campana recreated an Etruscan tomb. The site had some genuinely antique precedents, remains of the domus
In ancient Rome, the domus was the type of house occupied by the upper classes and some wealthy freedmen during the Republican and Imperial eras. They could be found in almost all the major cities throughout the Roman territories...

of Plautius Lateranus traversed by remains of the Claudian aqueduct
Aqua Claudia
Aqua Claudia was an aqueduct of ancient Rome that, like the Anio Novus, was begun by emperor Caligula in 38 AD and completed by Emperor Claudius in 52 AD. Its main springs, the Caeruleus and Curtius, were situated 300 paces to the left of the thirty-eighth milestone of the Via Sublacensis...

; a frescoed triclinium
A triclinium is a formal dining room in a Roman building. The word is adopted from the Greek τρικλίνιον, triklinion, from τρι-, tri-, "three", and κλίνη, klinē, a sort of "couch" or rather chaise longue...

excavated on the site in the time of Campana's father was memorialised in engravings. Annexed to the villa was the tiny ancient Church of Santa Maria Imperatrice. The two sections of the extensive grounds were connected by a private tunnel beneath via Santi Quattro Coronati.


In 1851 Campana married the Englishwoman Emily Rowles, whose family had connections to Prince Louis Napoleon, soon Napoleon III. Because of his cultural merits, he was given the title of marchese di Cavelli by Ferdinand II of Naples
Ferdinand II of Naples
Ferdinand II or Ferrante II of Naples , sometimes known as Ferrandino, was King of Naples from 1495 to 1496...

. He was an advisor to the Grand-Duke of Saxe-Weimar In 1851, the Natale di Roma, the annual celebration on the traditional day of Rome's founding, celebrated by the Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia was held at the Villa Campana on the Caelian Hill
Caelian Hill
The Caelian Hill is one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome. Under reign of Tullus Hostilius, the entire population of Alba Longa was forcibly resettled on the Caelian Hill...

, near the Basilica of St. John Lateran
Basilica of St. John Lateran
The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran , commonly known as St. John Lateran's Archbasilica and St. John Lateran's Basilica, is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope...

; among the guests was Ludwig of Bavaria
Ludwig of Bavaria
-Dukes:*Louis I, Duke of Bavaria , Duke of Bavaria in 1183 and the Count of Palatinate of the Rhine in 1214. He was a son of Otto I*Louis II, Duke of Bavaria , Duke of Bavaria from 1253 and Count Palatine of the Rhine....

. In addition to this villa suburbana, Campana had his principal Roman residence, the Palazzo Campana, at the corner of via Babuino and Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo is a large urban square in Rome. The name in modern Italian literally means "People's Square", but historically it derives from the poplars after which the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, in the northeast corner of the piazza, takes its name.The piazza lies inside the northern...

; there, according to Blewett's Handbook for travellers in central Italy (London, 1856), "the Campana Museum is in many respects superior to the Museo Gregoriano at the Vatican', though the collection was open only one day a week and only to those bearing a letter of introduction. The "Campana" reliefs were more easily viewed, as they were at the Monte di Pietà. Blewett's description of the collection at Palazzo Campana is worth quoting:

The specimens consist for the most part of gold ornaments, earrings in the form of genii, necklaces of scarabæi
The genus Scarabaeus consists of a number of Old World dung beetle species, including the "sacred scarab beetle", Scarabaeus sacer. These beetles feed exclusively on dung, which they accomplish by rolling a piece of dung some distance from where it was deposited, and burying it in order to feed on...

, filigree
Filigree is a delicate kind of jewellery metalwork made with twisted threads usually of gold and silver or stitching of the same curving motifs. It often suggests lace, and in recent centuries remains popular in Indian and other Asian metalwork, and French from 1660 to the late 19th century...

A brooch ; also known in ancient times as a fibula; is a decorative jewelry item designed to be attached to garments. It is usually made of metal, often silver or gold but sometimes bronze or some other material...

es, bracelets, neckchains, torque
Torque, moment or moment of force , is the tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis, fulcrum, or pivot. Just as a force is a push or a pull, a torque can be thought of as a twist....

s, chapelets in form of foliage &c.; the head of the horned Bacchus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

, and a gold fibula with an Etruscan
Etruscan language
The Etruscan language was spoken and written by the Etruscan civilization, in what is present-day Italy, in the ancient region of Etruria and in parts of Lombardy, Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna...

 inscription, equal, if they do not surpass, the finest productions of Trichinopoly or Genoa. One of the most remarkable objects in this collection is a superb Scarabæus in sardonyx, representing Cadmus
Cadmus or Kadmos , in Greek mythology was a Phoenician prince, the son of king Agenor and queen Telephassa of Tyre and the brother of Phoenix, Cilix and Europa. He was originally sent by his royal parents to seek out and escort his sister Europa back to Tyre after she was abducted from the shores...

 destroying the Dragon. The collection of Etruscan vases is also very fine, several presenting historical scenes, with Greek and Etruscan inscriptions. The Cabinet of Bronzes comprises a fine series of Etruscan and Roman objects: 2 beautiful tripods, a mirror of extraordinary beauty and size, and a cinerary urn of most rare occurrence in metal; it was found near Perugia
Perugia is the capital city of the region of Umbria in central Italy, near the River Tiber, and the capital of the province of Perugia. The city is located about north of Rome. It covers a high hilltop and part of the valleys around the area....

, containing the ashes of the dead, with a golden necklace, now amongst the jewellery; a bier of bronze, with the bottom in latticework, like that in the Museo Gregoriano, with the helmet, breastplate, greaves
Greaves may refer to*Greave, armour that protects the leg *Greaves Greaves is also a surname, which may refer to:*Jimmy Greaves, English footballer*John Greaves, English mathematician and antiquary...

 and sword of the warrior whose body reposed upon it. There are several fine specimens of Etruscan helmets, with delicate wreaths of gold foliage placed upon them. The collection of glass and enamels is most interesting, consisting of elegant tazze of blue, white and yellow glass mounted on filigree stands precisely as they were taken from the tombs. The series of Etruscan vases, not only from Etruria
Etruria—usually referred to in Greek and Latin source texts as Tyrrhenia—was a region of Central Italy, an area that covered part of what now are Tuscany, Latium, Emilia-Romagna, and Umbria. A particularly noteworthy work dealing with Etruscan locations is D. H...

 proper, but from Magna Grecia
Magna Graecia
Magna Græcia is the name of the coastal areas of Southern Italy on the Tarentine Gulf that were extensively colonized by Greek settlers; particularly the Achaean colonies of Tarentum, Crotone, and Sybaris, but also, more loosely, the cities of Cumae and Neapolis to the north...

, is rich and extensive

The Campana collection, reassembled virtually by Susanna Sarti, Giovanni Pietro Campana, 1808-1880 : the man and his collection (Oxford, 2001), is on-line at Corpus vasorum antiquorum
Corpus vasorum antiquorum
Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum is an international research project for ceramic documentation of the classical area.CVA is the first and oldest research project of the Union Académique Internationale of France. The first project meeting was organized by Edmond Pottier in Paris in 1919. The final...

: its twelve sections cover Vases (I), Bronzes (II), Jewellery and coins (III), Terracottas (IV), Glass (V), Etruscan, Greek and Roman paintings (VI), Greek and Roman sculpture (VII), Italian paintings from the Byzantine period to Raphael (VIII), Italian paintings from 1500 to ca 1700 (IX), Italian Maiolica
Maiolica is Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance. It is decorated in bright colours on a white background, frequently depicting historical and legendary scenes.-Name:...

 of the 15th-16th centuries (X), Maiolica by Luca della Robbia
Luca della Robbia
Luca della Robbia was an Italian sculptor from Florence, noted for his terra-cotta roundels.Luca Della Robbia developed a pottery glaze that made his creations more durable in the outdoors and thus suitable for use on the exterior of buildings. His work is noted for its charm rather than the drama...

 and his contemporaries (XI), and Etruscan and Roman curiosities (XII).


In a stunning reversal of his private fortunes, he pawned his antique jewels, and successively other parts of the collection. Works were interrupted at Vignola's grand villa at Frascati, which was being readied to receive the Campana collections, but he couldn't resist purchasing twenty-two classicising fresco elements painted by Baldassare Peruzzi
Baldassare Peruzzi
Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi was an Italian architect and painter, born in a small town near Siena and died in Rome. He worked for many years, beginning in 1520, under Bramante, Raphael, and later Sangallo during the erection of the new St. Peter's...

 for the Villa Stati-Mattei, as late as 1856. He was accused, arrested in November 1857 and convicted of embezzlement from the public funds in his care. After a dramatic trial he was condemned to twenty years prison which was commuted to exile and disgrace.


His collection was sequestered by the Pontifical State. A catalogue of his collection was published in 1858 and it was put up for sale. Works from the Campana collection wound up in the great national museums, from the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg, where the Tsar's
Nicholas I of Russia
Nicholas I , was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers...

 curator, Stepan Gedeonov was offered the right to select items from the collection before auction, to the Victoria and Albert Museum
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum , set in the Brompton district of The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, England, is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects...

 in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

 in New York.
In hopes of finding a buyer, the antique gold was entrusted to the Castellani atelier, founded in 1814 by Fortunato Pio Castellani
Fortunato Pio Castellani
Fortunato Pio Castellani was a 19th century Italian jeweller and founder of Castellani, an Italian jewellery company....

 (1794-1865), a goldsmith, antiquarian
An antiquarian or antiquary is an aficionado or student of antiquities or things of the past. More specifically, the term is used for those who study history with particular attention to ancient objects of art or science, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts...

 and collector, whose atelier producing jewellery and goldsmith's work was among the first to take inspiration from the gold of Antiquity that was being recovered by Campana and others from excavations in the Roman Campagna and in Etruria. Augusto Castellani (1829-1914) studied the Campana gold and made sensitive restorations, which in some examples amount to pastiches assembled from antique fragments, and presented a catalogue. The intimate study of the rare originals suggested to Castellani new techniques of workmanship and the more extensive restorations undertaken during the period which in some cases transformed the originals. Further copies and interpretations were made by Castellani in a refined archaeological taste. The Campana collection of ancient gold, remounted and restored by Castellani was bought by the French State in 1862 and is conserved in the Louvre.

Nine galleries in the Louvre contain the Greek pottery of the Campana collection.

Among the Campana collections, only the numismatic
Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects. While numismatists are often characterized as students or collectors of coins, the discipline also includes the broader study of money and other payment media used to resolve debts and the...

 collection of some four hundred Roman and Byzantine gold coins remained in Rome, purchased in 1873 by the administration of the Capitoline Museums
Capitoline Museums
The Capitoline Museums are a group of art and archeological museums in Piazza del Campidoglio, on top of the Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy. The museums are contained in three palazzi surrounding a central trapezoidal piazza in a plan conceived by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1536 and executed over...

, thanks to the interest of Augusto Castellani, who was a founding member of the Commissione Archeologica Comunale, and was named director of the Capitoline Museums the same year. The bequest of his own collection of over nine thousand more coins provided the nucleus of today's public collection.

Campana's "primitive" Italian paintings were purchased by the French State. In 1976 283 Campana paintings received an official home in the new Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon
Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon
The Musée du Petit Palais is a museum and art gallery in Avignon, southern France. It opened in 1976 and has an exceptional collection of Renaissance paintings of the Avignon school as well as from Italy, which reunites many "primitives" from the collection of Giampietro Campana...


Among Campana's paintings were also a series of five frescoes transferred to canvas. The subjects, by the school of Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

, were completed in 1523-1524 in the Villa Palatina, Rome. They went with the part of the Campana collection that the Russians acquired in 1861 and installed in the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...


Return to Rome

After the reunification of Italy, Campana returned to Rome, where he died on 10 October 1880, in the unfruitful process of reclaiming from the Pontificate the profits made on the sales of the Campana Collection, over and above the value it had been pawned for. The city council's project for subsidized housing to be built over the Villa Campana site by the Società edifacatrice italiana having fallen through in 1873, the villa came into the possession of a socially prominent English sculptor long established in Rome, Warrington Wood (1839-1886), a professor at the Accademia di San Luca
Accademia di San Luca
The Accademia di San Luca, was founded in 1577 as an association of artists in Rome, under the directorship of Federico Zuccari, with the purpose of elevating the work of "artists", which included painters, sculptors and architects, above that of mere craftsmen. Other founders included Girolamo...

. With the help of an English gardener he soon possessed "the best turf in Rome". The site was subsequently built over.

An exhibition in 2006, Frascati al tempo di Pio IX e del Marchese Campana : ritratto di una città tra cultura antiquaria e moderne strade ferrate set Campana in his cultural context.

External links

Further reading

  • Dizionario biographico degli Italiani
  • Eveline Schlumberger, "L'inépuisable Collection Campana" Connaissance des Arts (February 1964:38ff)
  • S. Reinach, "Esquisse d'une histoire de la Collection Campana", Revue Archéologique (1904-05:1-135).
  • Helen and Albert Borowitz, Pawnshop and palaces: the fall and rise of the Campana art museum (Smithsonian Institution Press) 1991.
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